SANLAKAS Youth UP Diliman

SANLAKAS Youth UP Diliman
Established July 1997
Category Political Organization
Location Flag of the Philippines.pngQuezon City, Philippines
Facebook SY-UPD on Facebook

Sanlakas Youth was established July 1997 as a response to the prevailing rah-rah activism in the University of the Philippines Diliman. It aims to introduce a new brand of activism that seeks to enjoin every Iskolar ng Bayan and not to further stigmatize nor isolate them.

SY believes that at the heart of activism is a simple premise that transcends mere slogans, that is the desire to help and to serve by actively participating in nation-building. From the traditional leafleteering, chalk brigades and posting operations to the more modern and creative ways of cyberactivism and concerts, SY strives to play an active role in helping the plight of our people through all forms of struggle.


Upon establishment in July 1997, SY immediately coalesced with the Independent Student Alliance (ISA) within the campus and with the Youth Alliance for the Recognition and Institutionalization of Student Empowerment (Youth ARISE!) outside. SY became the Diliman component of Youth ARISE’s main campaign back then- the passage of the Magna Carta of Students. At the peak of the campaign, Youth ARISE was able to mobilize about 3,000 students at the Senate in Pasay City to pressure senators to pass the MCS bill. Until now, the struggle for the MCS continues.

August 16, 1998 was a sad day for Sanlakas Youth as their Chairperson Alex Icasiano succumbed to cardiac arrest after undergoing Alpha Phi Beta initiation rites. This made members of ISA decide to dissolve the alliance. Lacking an alliance within the campus, SY chose to expand its horizons and decided to establish chapters outside UP Diliman the entire year 1999. These so-called Sanlakas Youth chapters exposed the scams and wrongdoings of the Estrada administration back then.

Making its presence felt inside the campus through its anti-Estrada advocacies, Year 2000 saw SY together with Buklod-CSSP spearheading the foundation of Alyansa para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran (ALYANSA). But as early as November 2000, SY and other members of ALYANSA had a different stand on the anti-Estrada struggle. Other ALYANSA member-organizations chose to remain with the slogan “Erap Resign!” while SY, believing that the ouster of Estrada is not enough, decided to campaign for the resignation or ouster of all elected government officials to pave the way for political and electoral reforms. Nonetheless, SY and ALYANSA marched side-by-side during Edsa Dos on January 2001.

Sanlakas Youth held its First Congress at the Scrapyard Resort in Rizal on February 25, 2001. SY Chapters all over the nation attended this historical event. Since then, Sanlakas Youth chapters led several campaigns that graced headlines of Philippine dailies. These include series of walkouts against the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the picket of Accountancy students in FEU against the retroactive extension of their curriculum, the campaign to protect Ang Pamantasan Student Publication from administration intervention in PLM, the defense of PUP’s right-of-first-refusal against a private company on the NDC land dispute, among others.

SY-UPD again made its difference with the entire ALYANSA felt in late 2002 when then Sanlakas Youth Chairperson Jena Rajni Empeño requested a special meeting to register its assessment on a statement of STAND UP calling ALYANSA, Convergence and SAMASA as fence-sitters. All the other member-organizations ganged-up on SY and insisted that ALYANSA is “not just into rallies.” This led to SY-UPD’s leave of absence from the formation due to major difference in opinion. They eventually resigned from the alliance upon learning that they became a convenient excuse in defending ALYANSA’s inaction on issues during the 2003 USC Elections. The SY-UPD ExeCom, after a few months, decided to accept Convergence’s invitation for them to be on observer status.

July 2003 was the time when SY-UPD invited both Convergence and ALYANSA to a joint protest action against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address (SONA). Sanlakas Youth became a member of Convergence on August 2003 upon assessment which of the two formations’ is more sincere in its campaigns and advocacies. With Sanlakas Youth heading the political arm of Convergence, they, together with Marlon Anore of Alpha Phi Beta’s Political Committee, proposed that a joint slate be formed with ALYANSA. The joint slate won but the coalition imploded after a year due to differences in the appreciation of basic principles. Sanlakas Youth members Abdel Disangcopan and Emil Tapnio won as USC Councilors on February 2004. They were eventually chosen as Chairpersons of the Student Rights & Welfare and Ways & Means Committee respectively.

SY-UPD in March 2005 then, assessing that no political alliance will bear progressive fruits unless basic principles are settled first, held a series of exploratory talks with APB, USP and Ulo ng Apo. These initiatives led to the formation of KAISA – Nagkakaisang Iskolar para sa Pamantasan at Sambayanan on May 5, 2005.

During the Founding Congress of KAISA, SY-UPD members Emil Tapnio, KG Santiago and Joseph Lumanog was voted as Chairperson, Secretary-General and Political Affairs Officer respectively. Lumanog also became the SINAG Editor-in-Chief that year. History major Michel Alcid became SY-UPD Chairperson while Sociology student Maan Villanueva was elected as Secretary-General. Villanueva proposed the declaration of August 16 of every year as Alex Icasiano Day and as a day of anti-fraternity violence advocacy.

SY-UPD with SDK, KAISA and SINAG formed the Black Ribbon Movement in protest of the junking of the impeachment complaint against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Gloria’s allies at the House of Representatives junked the impeachment through the tyranny of numbers. Sanlakas Youth members were injured in the violent dispersal of the march against Presidential Proclamation 1017 along EDSA near the MRT Santolan Station. UP Sociology Professor Randy David was among those arrested at the protest action.

Sanlakas Youth, KAISA and Iskolar Student Alliance – UP Manila formed the Junk John Osmeña Campaign in line with the upcoming Senatorial Elections of 2007. John Osmeña is known for his rabid advocacy to cut UP’s budget every year. He finished 20th despite being a former senator and running under the popular opposition ticket. In 2007, Sanlakas Youth founded the Youth Against Debt (YAD) together with other national, campus-based and community youth organizations. It was also this year that Sanlakas Youth was involved in the Alternative Budget Initiative of different civil society organizations. Moreover, in 2008, Sanlakas Youth became a major player in YAD’s Six-will-Fix advocacy and campaign.

Sanlakas Youth initiated the Seven Sins of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo campaign in June 2009 in support of the moves to oust the then incumbent Philippine president. Moreover, as a support to Goldilock Bakeshop workers’ struggle against unjust labor practices of their management, Sanlakas Youth launched the “There’s Blood in your Cake! Boycott Goldilocks!” Facebook page that aims to broaden support for the laborers in February 2010. Furthermore, as a reaction to the plans of the University of the Philippines to bestow the title Doctor of Laws to President Noynoy Aquino, SY-UPD initiated the Doctor of Laws/Doctor o’ Flaws campaign in April 2011.

Sanlakas Youth was among the founding organizations of the Students for Ecological and Economic Democracy (SEED), a network of students campaigning for climate justice and environmental protection that was organized May 2011. In June 2011, Sanlakas Youth launched the Enrolled under Protest campaign through a mass action in front of Palma Hall to register their opposition to the vague and dubious STFAP.

Four Pillars

  • A Government of the People, by the People and for the People

More than Lincoln’s famous rhetoric in Gettysburg, these words embody our ideals of a good government. Our definition of a democratic state is founded upon the rights and welfare of the people that comprise it. Here in our country, democracy is synonymous to mere suffrage. This false democracy only allows a few wealthy and influential people to compete, through elections, on who will be the next authoritarian; the Chief Executive Officer of social, economic and political exploitation. Our quest for good governance, then, is not just about the persons who are on top of the state apparatus but more on the prevailing system that corrupts most of those who try to engage in government.

  • National Sovereignty and International Solidarity

In the age of neo-liberal globalization, the competition of imperialist powers changed from territories to markets. Powerful countries divide the impoverished world where they influence governments for their interests; where they can dump their surplus products and even garbage. Thus, the struggle for national sovereignty remains while we recognize that the masses in each and every country, even in the wealthiest states, have their share of oppression. A better world is possible through the oppressed people’s own version of globalization: globalized resistance.

  • Social Progress with Social Justice

The concepts of progress and justice are both noble. Yet when one displaces the other, problems do arise. We engage the powers-that-be (our government, international institutions, school administrations, etc…) to include social justice in their developmental plans while we educate the people of the necessity to cope up with the modernizing world. The balance of these concepts plays a significant role in our advocacy of a better society.

  • Unity and Struggle

It is always easy to say that we believe in the most noble principles we could imagine, but if we don’t act to realize these causes, our principles and causes are mere meals of our brains and hearts for intellectual and social satisfaction. We are activists not because of the adventure or the camaraderie. We are serious in our quests and responsible in our tasks. Fence-sitters and armchair activists are not welcome in our ranks. Our being organized should make us feel the need to organize others. Unite them through our principles so they can struggle with us, with our causes.

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